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Health News Florida

Ticking Timebomb: May Is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Blacklegged ticks can transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.  These ticks are common in Florida.
Blacklegged ticks can transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. These ticks are common in Florida.
Blacklegged ticks can transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.  These ticks are common in Florida.
Credit Scott Bauer / USDA
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Blacklegged ticks can transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. These ticks are common in Florida.

Tick-borne Lyme disease, which can cause life-threatening illness, remains a concern in Florida.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Sunshine State ranks among the top 20 states in the number of cases reported each year.

Dr. Shirley Hartman of Jacksonville specializes in treating Lyme disease.  She says the number of possible symptoms makes diagnosis difficult.

Among them: muscle pain, nerve pain, joint pain, numbness, brain fog, depression anxiety, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

“It’s not unusual for people to see 12, 15, 20 doctors,” Hartman said.  “I mean one of our phrases is: undiagnosed; misdiagnosed; could be Lyme.”

Doctors recommend using a tick repellant on clothes, shoes and skin when going outside and checking yourself for ticks at least once a day.

Animals can also get Lyme disease.  According to the Companion Animals Parasite Council map, more than 460 dogs contracted Lyme disease in Florida from January to March of this year.

For a long time, the tiny deer tick was thought to be the only carrier but University of North Florida researcher Dr. Kerry Clark found common black-legged and lone star ticks can also transmit Lyme.

Contact reporter Cyd Hoskinson at choskinson@wjct.org, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter cydwjctnews

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